At one point, I was kinda ticked off at God. In some ways, I felt like Elijah in the desert. OK God – I’m done – I’m just gonna lay down here under this broom tree and die! I’ve had it!
Now – for this reading to really make sense, you gotta understand what happened right BEFORE it. In many ways, this story is a mirror image of today… and This may be one of the most interesting stories in the Old Testament. So – let me give you the reader’s digest version. (if you want to check it out, read 1 Kings chapters 17-19)
First, Elijah predicts a drought. Think that has any resemblance to today? It was even worse, though, because they didn’t get ANY rain – and not even DEW…. For THREE YEARS! Can you imagine Here after 3 years of drought? Why would God cause something so devastating? Because He was trying to fix Israel. You see - They were worshipping the wrong God. When queen Jezebel came into power, somehow it became politically correct to worship Baal instead of the Lord. Ball was supposed to be the God of fertility, but Also he was the god of rain. So the Lord God decided to SHOW Israel who really has the power – by taking away the one thing that could prove that Baal was not God.
This is where it gets really interesting – Elijah challenged the prophets of Baal to a duel of sorts. They built this altar and cut up a bull – stacked a bunch of wood around it – then the challenge was to call down fire from heaven to consume that sacrifice. It was almost comical – 450 priests of Baal standing around chanting, praying, and such, trying to get Baal to send fire from heaven. Elijah even taunted them – nothing is happening! Your god must be on the can! Maybe he’s sleeping! Try praying LOUDER! So, these guys shout even louder and slash themselves with knives…it was a crazy scene. After several hours, Elijah stepped in and told them to step aside. Then he had his servants pour WATER on the wood under the sacrifice… three times he had them dump water all over it until there was no way a match could light that it. Then he prayed and fire came from heaven and consumed not only the burnt offering, but the entire altar of stone!
Would that get YOUR attention? It got Baal’s prophets’ attention. It was OBVIOUS that THEY had been worshipping the WRONG GOD. Elijah had his servants hunt them all down and kill them…. Their just reward for having led the people away from the Lord, God.
To drive home the lesson, Elijah then predicted that rain was coming – and sure enough – the three year drought ended. Only the Lord, God controls the winds and the rain! The people were in awe and realized that they had been worshipping the wrong God!
Next queen Jezebel heard that Elijah had killed all of her prophets, so she put out the death warrant for Elijah… so Elijah did what any other self-respecting prophet would do… he ran away… fast….and that’s where today’s reading comes in – Elijah runs into the desert and is fed up! God – I’ve been serving you – taking all the abuse of people who don’t want to hear what you told me to tell them – and now I’m chased into the desert without food or water - AND – I’ve got a death threat?! I’M DONE!
Great story...but, How does this relate to you and me?
I’m not one to go around saying that God is using a natural phenomenon like a hurricane or tsunami or tornado to “teach somebody a lesson” – but in this case, it’s pretty clear that he did use a drought to teach a lesson...they were worshipping the wrong God. So – is He trying to teach us something today? You know – if the rain missed us only a few times, you might write it off as just the randomness of nature – but after 20-30 times of the rain stopping just short of our house – it seems obvious to me that SOMEBODY is trying to tell us something. So what is it? Could it be that WE are worshipping the wrong God?
Maybe we’re like the people in the Gospel – they’re chasing after Jesus – not because they were wanting to hear his wisdom – but because he fed them free food once (when he fed the 5000) – and there’s every reason to believe that he might just do it again! They were worshipping their stomachs.
Maybe we’re worshipping our own self-reliance – we don’t always recognize our need for God. We are always in control. Heck – even in a drought, we can still water our gardens from our garden hoses…. But this dry,… for this long – we have to realize that the only thing that’s going to keep us from drying to a crisp and burning like Colorado is for rain to come…. And only ONE controls the rain….and it ain’t us. Perhaps that’s why farmers often have a better faith life. Maybe it’s easier for them to recognize their total dependence on God.
Let me go back to my thought earlier - “God you wouldn’t have to work a MAJOR miracle to make the rain today….it’s just right there!”. I think the Holy Spirit spoke to me – because I suddenly realized that EVERY DROP of rain is a miracle. I think it’s easier for us to recognize that right now as we’re going through the drought… EVERY drop FEELS precious right now. But whether it falls on a parched field in July or on a rainy day in January – it is GOD who provides the rain – he's the one who makes the molecules and the wind and humidity all come together to form each raindrop. EVERY rain drop is a miracle… to think otherwise would be to deny that God is LORD of the rain. Would you agree? Is every raindrop a miracle?... A blessing from God? You don’t have to raise your hands – just answer that to yourself – yes or no.
OK God – so I believe you are Lord of the Rain… so what? But I felt the Spirit pulling me to think a little deeper. I couldn’t help but notice that many of us are often tempted to think the same way about human life. Life is only a blessing when we want it or need it… but now that we understand that every raindrop is a blessing from God – then shouldn’t it be even easier to recognize that every Life is a blessing from God? Whether we intended or wanted it to happen or not, God must have willed it, or the molecules and chemistry wouldn’t have lined up to allow that little miracle to happen. God is pro-Choice!! Don’t walk out on me just yet – let me explain… God has the choice whether or not to send us rain. God has the choice whether or not to allow conception to occur. God has the choice when to end my life. It’s easy for us to be pulled in to the politically correct, so-called wisdom of world which says that WE should have the right to choose whether that life should be allowed to continue. Our culture today worships individual rights and individual beliefs. We have been worshipping the wrong God….
But the good news is that God loves us so much that He will stop at nothing to pull us back! He would die on the cross… He would feed us with his body and blood…. So I don’t think He would hesitate to make the drought continue for 3 or 4 more years if that’s what it takes to make us realize ... we’ve been worshipping the wrong God.